News - McHenry County

Republican congressional candidate Lauf stands by debunked claim about schools and litter boxes

Bill Foster, left, and Catalina Lauf are candidates for the 11th District Congressional seat in November.

Although the claim has been debunked as a hoax, Republican congressional candidate Catalina Lauf is standing by a recent tweet in which she said some schools provide litter boxes for students who like pretending they’re anthropomorphic animals.

“I hear story after story from teachers and school administrators detailing meetings about this ‘furry’ trend in (Illinois) public schools,” Lauf, of Woodstock, told the Daily Herald in an email.

When repeatedly asked to share proof of such activity, Lauf provided none.

Instead, Lauf criticized Gov. JB Pritzker for signing a law last year that requires free feminine hygiene products be available in grade-school bathrooms, and she complained about teachers having to refer to children “by whatever pronouns they decide to go by that week.”

“Our parents are sick and tired of this sickening wokeism,” Lauf said.

Lauf is challenging Democratic incumbent Bill Foster of Naperville in Illinois’ 11th Congressional District. Foster campaign spokesman Greg Cybulski dismissed the litter-box claim as a right-wing conspiracy theory that Lauf “got fooled into thinking is real.”

Lauf first tweeted about litter boxes in schools Monday in response to a news report about a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota who made the claim.

“This is not a hoax and is happening in schools in Illinois, too,” Lauf wrote.

But the claim has proved to be unfounded. School officials in several states have disputed such rumors, which have spread on the internet but have been rejected by fact-checkers. The hoax even has a dedicated Wikipedia page.

When the Capitol Fax political news site subsequently reported on Lauf’s comment, she tweeted about it again, saying “schools are being overrun with ridiculous, sick indoctrination” that includes teachers being “forced to call students furries.”

“Furries” is an accepted description for people who dress as animals with human traits at conventions or who represent themselves as animals online.

Cybulski said Lauf, who worked at the U.S. Commerce Department in 2019 during President Donald Trump’s administration and who touted her connection to the former president last year, is spreading the litter-box story “to appeal to MAGA supporters.”

This is Lauf’s second run for Congress. She unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in the 14th District in 2020.

Foster has served the 11th District since 2013. He previously represented the 14th District for almost three years.

Redrawn for the 2022 election, the 11th District encompasses parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will, DeKalb and Boone counties.